The effectiveness of a superabrasive material for your specific application is determined by the particle size, but, more importantly, the particle shape.
FlowCam can help you quickly characterize your superabrasive material, including micronized diamonds and cubic boron nitride (CBN), so you can ensure consistency and maintain quality.
Common particle analysis techniques such as sieving, Coulter Counters, and laser scatter instruments can provide particle size distribution, but they cannot provide any shape information. You can use a microscope, however it's extremely time consuming, and does not give you a statistically-significant amount of data.
FlowCAM is ideally suited for the characterization of superabrasive materials because it can quickly determine particle shape and particle size. Using its VisualSpreadsheet® software, high-level image measurements such as roughness are calculated to characterize differences in particle shape that are not apparent using the older techniques.
Plus it analyzes a large sample quickly - tens of thousands of particle per minute - so you can determine whether you superabrasive material is in or out of spec with ease.
A manufacturer of micronized diamonds used the FlowCam VS Series to ensure a new batch met their desired specifications – at least 95% of the diamond particles needed to have a uniform, smooth perimeter.
The image above shows the FlowCam results. The upper graphs are the frequency and volume distributions, which show a typical Gaussian size distribution with a mean Equivalent Spherical Diameter (ESD) of 21.54 µm. The aspect ratio (width/length) scattergram in the lower left, however, indicates that the particles are not uniform in shape.
Using VisualSpreadsheet it was easy to separate and display the particles of different shape. In the below image, both sets of particles have an ESD around the mean, but different degrees of smoothness around their perimeters. The set on the left have a relatively smooth perimeter with rounded edges, whereas the set on the right are more angular. However, the percentage of angular particles was automatically shown to be less than 5%, so this batch of diamonds met the set specification.
The manufacturer was quickly and easily able to evaluate the quality of this batch of micronized diamonds using the FlowCam. To reach the same, statistically-significant conclusion using a microscope would have taken hours, if not days to complete.